back to article Rigid sky-train to fly through magnetic rings on sticks

Promoters in Las Vegas this week vied to offer the wildest ideas for a new super-fast mass transit link between the desert gambling mecca and Los Angeles. Plans were presented for a "railless" train which would fly through magnetic rings mounted atop pillars and a "sunlight bullet expressway" employing "large air-cushioned …


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TR vs ShiekoBento

Salesman vs someone who [sounds like they] knows what they're talking about.

I'm enjoying this debate and I've absolutely no interest whatsoever in the subject. They could use rocket powered camels for all I cared.




Interesting name, apparentently meaning "one item Japanese carry out" but at any rate, if you had been at UNLV last Monday you would have clearly heard us say that even if we had a purchase order in hand, we could not bid on a route like this. That we are in a development process and wanted to use the two proposals for the LA to LV and the issues with both to make the case that alternative transportation models need to be developed.

It is not surprising that you found the Maglev proposal the most "professional" , it was after all professionally produced and they have been practising for 30 years. Thank you German taxpayers.

Now as for the speed of the Shangai Maglev. You put it at 7 minutes and 20 seconds for an average speed of 155mph. I on the other hand allowed some time for people to actually get on and off. That extra minute and forty seconds you save allows more time to find a taxi to get to where you are actually going.

The FRA did publish the 12 billion dollar figure in 2009 as you said. Of course they were quoting the 2005 estimate of 12 billion. If you use a 5 per cent factor for inflation the estimate should be corrected to over 14 billion in 2009 dollars. This is what the CHSRA has been honest enough to do with their number which has gone from 25 billion in 2000 to the current estimate of about 45 billion.

You say we should disregard the Washington Baltimore numbers as that is for an Unbanized area on the East Coast. LA is just as densly populated as that corridor (40 miles). That puts the Urbanized number at well over 100 million per mile supporting the URS, Orangeline estimate in the SoCal area. Percentage wise, how much of the 269 miles do you think can be built for 45 million a mile? How much is virgin land with no existing infrastructure? TheFRA estimate is now above 5 billion for DC. Of course, DC does not have to worry about seismic events and building for that. Guess the extra money goes to figuring out how to melt the ice and snow on the guideway in that part of the country.

Maglev is truly amazing technology and the people who developed it have a lot to be proud of but it is simply too expensive for the benefits. It is time to move on.

Robert Pulliam

Tubular Rail


Maglev Systems WILL Be Built

Looking again at this particular corridor (LA/LV) and what can be done now:

I believe DesertXpress technology could be the best option if they could actually be a sustainable project and have real benefit to the economy of all cities from LV to LA, if they could actually address the real problem with congestion from Victorville to LA, if they could fully connect the true destinations and airports. But they just can't.

And yes, you were very clear that you are not bidding on the LA to LV route. I'm just not sure why you felt the need to defend yourself on this point, since I never argued that in the first place.

The Las Vegas Sun article sums up your TubeRail proposal as, "...their plans are largely conceptual and far from the point of carrying passengers."


Which really then leaves Maglev.

And actually ALL presentations at UNLV were professionally produced- unless you are telling me that you and your team are not professionals? The reason I felt the Maglev team was more professional was because they seemed to stay on topic and focused on the details of their own project. This should not take 30 years to learn.

Because of the acceleration and speed capabilities of Maglev, it will compete with the airline industry on corridors such as this one. As far as your method for calculating travel time by including “time for people to actually get on and off… time to find a taxi to get to where you are actually going.”?? Nice! Why don’t we just include the time it takes for them to shower in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast and pack their bags, too? By the time you are done with it, Maglev will be competing with the bicycle industry instead! No need to comment further on this, people can see through the B.S.

Yes the estimate for $12 billion comes from their 2005 study, which the Maglev guys have been up front about, and I agree that adjustments need to be made to make the numbers current. A portion of their funding will help pay for these updates in their EIS and preliminary engineering that is underway.

However you also need to factor in a significant reduction in construction costs due to research and development. After the opening of the Shanghai Maglev, the German government completed a value engineering program where over $120 million was spent solely on reducing the costs of constructing maglev systems saying it is now cost-competitive with HSR.


I never said we should disregard the Wash/Balt Maglev numbers, just that you need to be more careful how you apply them since you assumed that their very high cost per mile should be applied to the entire LA/LV corridor, which is absurd.

Keep in mind that Wash/Balt has not yet included the cost-reduction in their estimates due to the German research and development. Also keep in mind that they will have UNDERGROUND stations which mean a huge increase in costs (11% of their costs). The stations for the LV/LA proposal (only 1% of their costs) will be above-ground, will most likely get funding from Casino owners and they do not need to build their terminus station because they are connecting to the logical destination, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.


The 45M/mile cost for the LV/LA route is an average and will cost more in some areas (urban developed) and less in others (rural, undeveloped). But even when you apply the cost of Wash/Balt to the small portion of LV/LA that is urbanized, it would definitely be less.

Steel-wheel technology is a much more proven technology as it has been developing for 140 years, but it has already reached its peak. Maglev on the other hand, although already a proven technology, is relatively young and has so much room for further development and cost reduction.

This is why China has plans to expand their maglev system, Japan is planning to use maglev with all their future systems, currently maglev is a proposal to be built in Brazil before they host the next World-Cup, transportation experts in Denver have just recently stated their preference for maglev and significant funding has just gone to Pennsylvania and Atlanta for their maglev development.

Whether it happens in this corridor or not and whether you like it or not, Maglev IS going to happen.

So you may feel it's time to move on, but many intelligent, well-educated people in this world see otherwise. Some say the first personal home computer cost around $10,000 and took up an entire room. Maybe you think we should have skipped over that idea, too.




After Dr. Harding says that the Germans now claim Maglev is cost competive with HSR he goes on to say,

" While the true cost for maglev is unknown (at least in U.S. market economy terms), we eagerly await a major deployment of the technology."


His email is as below. I know Dr. Harding and I know what he thinks the LA to LV route will cost. I suggest you write him and ask for his estimate of the cost.

John T. Harding was chief scientist for maglev development at the Federal Railroad Administration until his retirement and now serves as a professional on the International Maglev Board. He lives in Palm Springs and can be reached at 760 328 7692 or jthps@yahoo.com.

I would also suggest you visit the International Maglev Board Forums and read some of his comments on Maglev energy consumption. He likes Maglev but is not biased. He has issues with us as well.

That's what makes it fun.



One other point, you say the intelligent, well educated people see otherwise. At one time, the intelligent, well educated people thought the World was flat and at the center of the Universe.

Thank God for Heretics


Will the U.S. Be a Leader?

Thanks for the information on Dr. Harding. I know about him as well and respect his opinions and will probably contact him for his thoughts. I agree that the true cost of Maglev in the U.S. still needs further develoment. However, when it comes down to the LV to LA corridor, nobody knows the costs better than the companies that developed the $12B estimate. 

These studies and costs estimates were not prepared by some fly-by-night companies. They were prepared by highly reputable firms and are leading engineering companies in the world who all were present during their forum (General Atomics, Parsons, Hirschfeld Industries and Transrapid - the German maglev technology providers).

General Atomics is the company that designed and patented the Predator, unmanned aerial vehicles that save thousands of U.S. military lives.


They are also currently under contract with the U.S. Navy to replace the existing steam catapult system with patented maglev technology for launching jet fighters on aircraft carriers.


Parsons is a worldwide engineering and construction firm more than 60 years old. They consistently rank among the Top 10 firms by the Engineering News-Record every year and have completed major multi-million dollar projects in 49 states and 25 countries.


So yeah, I believe these firms have a lot more credibility than any opposing projects, politicians or opinions who are either distant from the data specific to this corridor or who try to discredit maglev because they want to promote their own agenda.

Oh, and I like your point on how at one point some well educated people thought the world was flat, just like some well educated people nowadays are still stuck on old train technologies. Fortunately there were explorers in that day that thought there had to be more and discovered the New World. Just like the visionaries today that know that new technologies such as Maglev will be our "New World" in transportation. 

As I said peviously, traditional HSR has its place but Maglev will continue to develop, surpass HSR and costs will continue to be reduced with each new project. 

The only question now is: will the U.S. be a leader in this, or will we continue to fall behind by investing in outdated technologies?



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